The Return of the American Council of Witches

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 12, 2011 — 239 Comments

In 1973 Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, shortly after his initiation into the American Celtic tradition of Witchcraft by Lady Sheba, helped organize the American Council of Witches (aka the Council of American Witches). The group would convene and disband in 1974, partially due to internal divisions and debates, but before it did they published the Thirteen Principles of Belief (aka Principles of Wiccan Belief). Meant as a general set of principles that all groups participating at the time could agree with, that material was subsequently incorporated into the 1978 edition of the Army’s military chaplain’s handbook thanks to Dr. J. Gordon Melton (the material was revised in the 1980s and 1990s, with input from groups like COG and Lady Liberty League). Now this group is attempting to rise from the ashes as the US American Council of Witches.

“We are an independent group of members who each follow a Natural Earth Religion or Tradition. Who shall gather together in interfaith dialog, to redraft a set of Common Principles, Mission Statement, Purpose, Revision of the Army’s Manual and a possible revision of the The Thirteen Principles Of Belief.”

The nascent council has already issued a press release outlining its goals and mission.

Newly Formed Group Defends Witchcraft Rights And Beliefs

The United States is a nation whose very foundation, the Bill of Rights, guarantees its citizens freedom of religious beliefs. Yet those citizens with beliefs that fall well outside of Christianity are often misunderstood and persecuted. There seems to be a rising voice in American politics that non-Christian beliefs are somehow less valid than Christian beliefs. One arena where we have seen this is the attack on our President by those claiming he is Muslim, which they appear to believe invalidates his ability to lead our nation. Another arena is such outspoken organizations as David Barton’s Wallbuilders, who advocate a Federal acceptance that the Unites States is a Christian nation.

In light of these attacks upon our basic religious freedoms, members of the community of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, and other polytheists have united to re-form the American Council of Witches. First formed in 1973, the Council was a group of over seventy Witches and Pagans who drafted a set of principles outlining the common practices of Neopagan religions in North America. This statement was adopted by the Unites States Army for inclusion in their Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains in 1978.

Though the Council was disbanded in 1974, individuals who each follow a Pagan, Neopagan or Witchcraft Tradition feel it is time to reform the organization in order to achieve certain goals that were not addressed by the original council in the early Seventies. Among these goals are: to revise the original council’s Thirteen Principles of Belief Common Among NeoPagans; to re-submit revisions to the United States Army Handbook for Chaplains; to provide government and law enforcement on Federal, State and County levels with information on NeoPagan beliefs and practices to be used in creating and upholding laws, allowing NeoPagans their Constitutional rights, and ministering to the beliefs of Pagan inmates.

The revised American Council Of Witches will be composed of Pagans,Wiccans, Witches and other NeoPagan practitioners from each of the fifty United States. We will engage in an interfaith dialogue to identify and address the legal and social needs of members of our religions, and we will create policy and documents as deemed necessary. And we hope to dialogue with members of other faiths to foster a basic understanding of our beliefs.

For information, interviews and membership, please contact: usamericancouncilofwitches@yahoo.com

Wanting more information, I contacted them, and spoke with Wiccan author and musician Kenny Klein, a member of the new Council.

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

Are there any links between this new ACW and the original body?

The new Council was organized primarily at a request from the U.S. Army to update the Army Chaplains Handbook, whose Wiccan/Pagan statement was written by the original council. Oberon Zell served on the original body, and will be involved with the current body. Isaac’s widow, Phaedra, has also had input. Other members of the original body may be contacted as well.

Who is organizing this effort? Who’s driving it? Have any Pagan organizations/religious institutions endorsed your plans?

The original effort was organized by Chicago area Witch Kaye Berry, who was handed the request from the U.S. Army (I believe from Oberon). Kaye began contacting Witches and Pagans whom she believed would make valuable contributions to the effort. I was contacted early on, and felt this was a worthy project. I have been helping to identify Witches who are leaders in the Pagan/Witch community who might be assets to the project. Our current goal is to bring thirteen core members in as a board. Ultimately we will bring in a representative for each state in the U. S. Of this number, it is my own personal goal to see representation of the major traditions of Wicca and other Pagan practices, and also voices of less structured practices.

You mention Pagans and polytheists in addition to Witches and WIccans, does that mean the group is open to non-Witches?

That is correct. The word Witch may have served the mission statement of the original 1973 board, but the Pagan community has diversified greatly since then. While we continue to use a variant of the original name, we feel that the service and input of members representing the entire Pagan community is of the utmost value to our efforts.

Do you have any specific outreach/interfaith initiatives planned at this time?

At this time our goal is to identify the thirteen core members, and to begin organizing committees to work on our three primary objectives (see below). We do have a Facebook page, which has been receiving a good number of hits. We feel this will generate an interest in the organization. We will begin to plan outreach once our initial goals have been met, which will include the creation of a website, and representation at major and regional Pagan events.

Please note our three initial objectives for the council:

  • Revision of the original statement in the Army Handbook for Chaplains
  • Redrafting a set of Common Principles, updating the set of principles drafted by the original Council
  • Revision of the The Thirteen Principles Of Belief drafted by the original Council

For those wanting to get involved, or follow their progress, you can do so at their Facebook page. No doubt they’ll be in touch with present day active Pagan organizations like COG, Circle Sanctuary, the ADF, the Troth, and others, as things move along. I will be following their progress with interest.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Catherine

    Jason, Do you know if they have plans for an actual web site? I’d love to know more, but I just can’t deal with face book.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I asked them about that, it seems they are sticking with Facebook for now.

      • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

        That’s unfortunate. A LOT of people don’t use Facebook, and it appears it’s not a public page, so us non-FBers can’t even read it. I feel that organizations which want to be taken seriously should give a lot of consideration to a proper website.

        • http://www.facebook.com/dsalisbury David Salisbury

          I agree, they will need a website asap. And in fear of sounding antagonistic, the US American language does indeed sound awkward.
          Props to anyone who organizes anything though. I’m a fan of things being done in general.

          • Kennyfiddler

            I didn’t come up with “U. S. American…” but I think it was devised to differentiate us from the original council, and from our Pagan brothers and sisters in Canada.

        • Rev kaye Berry

          We are waiting for donations so that a web page may be developed.

          • Catherine

            Would you consider making your face book page public until then? That way, those of us who choose not to have a face book account can still see where this project is headed and decide if it’s something we want to support or not. You might get more donations if the information about your plans, progress, etc. were easier to access.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Heck, they might get more donations a) setting something up in Kickstarter, b) ponying up the $30 between them that it would take to buy a domain name and get an introductory year’s worth of web hosting on a green web host, slapping a WordPress template together, drafting a couple of pages of content and calling it a webpage, then sticking a Paypal link on it.

          • Wild

            Hi. I run a slavic/wicca temple. (In the works) I’d be more than happy to design/do the wordpress template for the website free of charge once you’ve got it going. My email is wild@templesova.theinfinitynetwork.org

    • Kennyfiddler

      Kenny Klein here. We are developing a web site right now. That effort is being driven by Kaye Berry.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone else think that ‘The U.S. American’ part sounds odd? Doesn’t ‘U.S.’ imply American? I bring this up because I think names are important. And, as-is, I won’t be able to take seriously an organization that can’t get usage of English straight in the first place.

    • http://mullenkamp.wordpress.com Zaratha

      Technically, “America” includes more than the United States, which is why some people online use terms like USian.

      • Anonymous

        Technically, the proper term is “North America” which includes Canada, the US, and Mexico.

      • Anonymous

        Are you serious? USian? That’s just retarded.

    • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

      U.S. American definitely sounds clunky. If they can some Canadians they should change it to “North American”. Alternatively, if they can get some Latin Americans then it could just be “American”.

      Or why not “National Council of Witches”? That has a nice ring to it.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I assumed they meant “American” to refer to the Americas, North and South, and “U.S.” to this country. The USA part (founding lodge?) of something intended to embrace the New World.

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t get the impression that that was part of their current ‘vision’, at least based on this article. You’re being kind…

    • Anonymous

      The only other place I’ve ever heard “US American” was Miss Teen USA South Carolina 2007′s lovely response to a question about what to do about geographical ignorance among young people.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww

      • Tara

        That’s exactly what I thought.

      • Anonymous

        I think THAT fact alone speaks volumes about this project. What a bunch of boneheads.

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      Aren’t folkses who live in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay also Americans? United States Americans aren’t the only Americans.

      • Anonymous

        Alice, I guess it depends on whose using the term and the context for it. I’ve never actually heard folks from Canada, Mexico or points south refer to themselves as ‘Americans’. That term tends to be used for legal residents of the U.S. I can just imagine the BBC reporting on a newsworthy event in Paraguay talking about the impact it had on the ‘Americans’ there. LOL

        • Luis Abbadie

          I am Mexican, and I for one am sick to death of listening to Mexicans ranting about the so-called arrogance of people from the USA who call themselves “Americans” when that includes everybody from Canada to Tierra del Fuego; many call USA people “North Americans” even though Mexico itself is technically part of North America.

          Me, I think USA folks calling themselves Americans is fine. The country IS called United states of America, while Mexico’s actual name -which seems to be unknown beyond our frontiers- is “Mexican United States” -so if Mexican can be Mexicans, Americans can be Americans, right?

          Still, people from Mexico, paraguay, or whatever, do identify as Latin Americans, and our media does use this term regularly, so yes, Latin or not, we do consider ourselves Americans.

    • Kennyfiddler

      See above…but Canadians are Americans too.

      • Anonymous

        I work with a number of Canadians and they would be the last to describe themselves as Americans. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Either that or this is some kind of P.C. B.S.

        • Kennyfiddler

          I know a good number of Canadians who describe themselves as American. Whether they do or not, that’s the name of the project. I did not create the name for the project. You can use the e-mail for the council to complain about it. I am quite sure that no matter what name has been thought up, someone will be upset, offended or put out. That is the reality of creating any organization and trying to do something one deems as good or important. I prefer to work on the Council’s goals rather than complain about the name.

          • AnonGuest

            I know a good number of Canadians who describe themselves as American.
            Odd.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    As always, loving the posting of good news and positive activities of Pagans. Please keep it up!

  • Joseph Nichter

    I have always been a strong proponent of the original principals. But but find it very odd that the US ARMY would request any religious body to revise the tenants or the belief. In addition I disagree with changing the terminology to “Pagan,” even in an effort to be inclusive. It was not the principals of Paganism, it is the principals of Wicca.

    Witches, Druids, Asatru are Pagans, but all have their own principles. I do acknowledge a need to draft a common set of principles for “Pagans” as an umbrella term, but would strongly urge that it be done by an American counsel of “Pagans” and leave our historic document in its original form, our heritage does not need to be revised.

    • Caliban

      I think that the Army is finding that the older information is making it difficult to know how to understand and meet the needs of Pagan servicemembers who practice a different tradition of the Craft or follow a different Pagan faith.

      To stay within the bounds of Wicca, even, a Gardnerian may have a valid need to arrange a time and place to work skyclad, for instance, while a Dianic might feel very strongly about receiving chaplain counsel from a woman.

      This organization has a tough job ahead of them, and I wish them all the luck they will need in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

      • Joseph Nichter

        “… Pagan service members who practice a different tradition of the Craft or follow a different Pagan faith.”

        If they’re a different tradition or faith then the principles would not apply to them anyways, therefore there is no need to change them.

        The Army would best serve those service members by helping them to seek assistance from their own traditions instead of trying to change ours to meet their needs.

        • Blackbird

          As a former Pagan service member, the original Army Chaplain’s definition place all pagans under the heading of “Wicca.” As I’m sure you’re aware, Druids, Asatru members, and others pagan service members that do not consider themselves Wiccan would appreciate a review and correction within the manual. A project like this is much needed with the number of changes that have taken place in the pagan community in the past almost 40 years.

          http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_usbk.htm

        • Oberon

          Joseph said: “Witches, Druids, Asatru are Pagans, but all have their own principles. I do acknowledge a need to draft a common set of principles for “Pagans” as an umbrella term, but would strongly urge that it be done by an American counsel of “Pagans” and leave our historic document in its original form, our heritage does not need to be revised. ”

          All the various Pagan Paths I know of have in fact compiled their own respective sets of “Principles.” The set put together by the original ACW in 1974 was one of these–for Witches, not for other non-Wiccan Pagans. And more generic statements of pan-Pagan precepts and principles have also been put together by councils representing a wide variety of Pagan Paths.

          I find it unfortunate that many Pagans today may not be familiar with these collective position statements. Perhaps it would be good to publish them in Wild Hunt and Green Egg…

          BB-OZ

    • http://blog.chasclifton.com Chas Clifton

      “US Army” is way too vague. There is a head chaplaincy office in Washington, and if this really is an Army-wide revision, someone there should be able to offer more detail.

      • Joseph Nichter

        Good point. Another interesting point to consider is that the 13 principles are not actually listed in the Chaplains Manual, in fact I cannot even find a reference to them at all.

        So what exactly is the connection between the need for revising the chaplain manual and the need to revise the 13 principles? Because I don’t see one at all.

        The chaplains manual could definably use some work, but I fail to see how that necessitates the need for all this hoopla. It only causes me to question motives.

        • Kennyfiddler

          Revising the item in the Chaplains Manual and revising the 13 principles are two different goals. However, Kaye, the woman who has the ball on this incarnation of the council, also does prison ministry and many other services to the Pagan community in the Midwest. I think her vision is to have an official document that she can use to represent the umbrella of Pagan practices to the community at large. Of course we are well aware that no matter how inclusive that document is, someone is going to find fault with it…but in my opinion, when representing Pagan faith to the world at large, it’s better to have some consensus of what Pagan means than none.

          • Rev Kaye Berry

            Lets start with the Federal Government:
            all Federal Government facilities including and not limited to: All Offices, All Departments, All Prisons.

            State: All State Government Offices, All State Government Departments, All State Jails.

            County: All County Government Offices, All County Departments, All County Jails.

            Now times this by 50+ states.

            And lets count each and every hospital out there that are christian based. They all are crying for a guide of sorts.

            This project is going to take a few years to complete. We welcome all the help we can get.

            Guides will be for sale to the general public when the project is complete.

            All traditions will be in the new guide, any groups may be included in the guide. We need contact people for the different traditions for the Soldiers overseas, for any and all inmates, etc…..

            We wish to be interfaith in all the fine natural earth traditions out there. There are no “being in charge of another” thing that will go on.

            We are gathering all types and kinds of people, we would like to see a rep from each tradition, a rep from each state. All the different people that encompass all that we are. We are beautiful Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Native American’s… the list goes on and on. I myself am Native American~Pagan.

            If we cant say anything good or positive then say nothing at all.

            I want to thank the 989 people who have contacted the US American Council of Witches with offers to help us.
            Blessed Be!

          • Kerri Connor

            “All traditions will be in the new guide,”

            how is this going to be anywhere near possible? The guide would end up being thousands and thousands and thousands of pages long.

          • Sky

            Ms. Berry,

            Are you implying that you are including Native Americans in your guide to be used at a state and federal level? Are you aware that there are already state and federal guidelines that are ‘native american’ specific? Are you aware that there are already tribally run organizations that over-see compliance?

            Sky Davis
            Eastern Band Cherokee
            Former AIM Chapter Director
            Founder and former Director of the Iron Lodge Prison Project

          • Luis Abbadie

            There are many of us who feel that the original 13 Principles document is badly misrepresentative of both Wiccans and Witches, and has caused a great deal of confusion, since it’s been taken up out of context and given very widespread use. It sorely needs revising, if it’s even going to be used at all, no doubt, but I hope you do not intend to make that one also inclusive of all forms of Paganism. I collaborated in one long and wearisome effort to define a however vague definition of Paganism with some folks a while ago and most of us gave up, when we failed to find a single aspect that was common to all pagans!

        • Blackbird

          There was an Army Pamphlet that you can review to understand while the goals are mutually exclusive they are, in fact, related. http://www.wicca.org/instit/army.html

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        The US Army is not nearly as organized in some ways as people like to think.

        • Rev Kaye Berry

          kerri, of course we cant put in every single tradition, but we can attempt to get the larger groups in.

          • Kerri Connor

            But you already said it would include all traditions, so how do you decide who to leave out? I guess I really don’t see the point in this – other than if this is something the military really wants it sounds more like they are looking for ammunition. I don’t understand either why a council of 13 witches would think they have the right to define anyone elses’ beliefs.

      • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

        I’m wondering why the US Army came to Kaye Berry in the first place. Who is Kaye? Was she in the Army?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

    I’ve very excited to see this!

    • Druidsring

      Mrs B.! We know you will get to the bottom of this! Yay!

  • Kilmnrnock

    I can understand the US Army wanting revisions , since our community is so diverse , at this point in our growth . Back in 74 , the community was most Wiccan , but now we have a fairly large Asatru , Druid [ADF] , Celtic , groups amounst us just to mention a few. Kilm

    • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

      Incorporating these other traditions into the Army’s handbooks can also go a long way to getting their faith symbols added to the list of acceptable symbols for headstone markers by the VA.

      • Kennyfiddler

        I was actually JUST speaking to someone from the Pentacle Project, who got the first VA sanctioned pentacle grave marker on a soldier’s grave.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          I wasn’t talking about the pentacle. Does anybody remember what went on with our Asatru brothers and sisters around the same time as our pentacle campaign?

        • http://www.facebook.com/rpaxton Robert Paxton

          Fact check: Circle Sanctuary did the bulk of the heavy lifting on that in conjunction with Americans United for Separation of Church & State, and are the ones who won the suit.

          The first such grave marker (Sgt. Patrick Stewart) is in Circle Cemetery.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Let’s do please not forget the contributions of Covenant of the Goddess and the Aquarian Tabernacle Church in this, hm?

          • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

            They had their own separate lawsuit. The lawsuit with Circle Sanctuary and us as the litigants was the one that got settled there allowing the pentacles on the memorial’s.

        • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

          Kenny, My husband and I were litigants on the Pentacle Quest. The person to speak to would be Selena Fox from Circle Sanctuary– Circle and the other litigants, including us, were involved in this particular lawsuit. There is a timeline on http://www.circlesanctuary.org about the Quest.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Hey, American Council of Witches! Your FB page does not accept comments on the wall, and a whole bunch of people have questions, comments and suggestions for you!

    • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

      Also defining which holidays are part of which traditions.

    • Parmaqqay

      You have to hit the “Like” button on the top of the page before you can add comments.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        I did, and it didn’t work, so I added a comment beneath an unrelated subject.

    • Kennyfiddler
    • Rev Kaye Berry

      please send all comments, questions etc….. to:
      usamericancouncilofwitches@yahoo.com

      I am sorry that I had to delete all comments due to the threats and verbal hate comments that were there. So in order to be fair we had to delete all. Sorry

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        … in order to be fair you had to delete them all? o.O

        Wow. I hope that “baby with the bathwater” approach isn’t going to be de rigueur throughout your project…

      • Anonymous

        “threats and verbal hate”? That sounds a bit dramatic…

      • Anonymous

        “threats and verbal hate”? That sounds a bit dramatic…

      • Catherine

        It’s unfortunate that you’re receiving hateful comments, but I’m not surprised. Something like this is going to draw all kinds of opposition. A thicker skin could come in handy down the road. I do have to ask though, why would you be concerned about being fair to the people threatening you?

        • Rev Kaye Berry

          being fair to all comments, kinda didnt seem fair when you only delete the verbal attacks. But we are moving on….. And yes I guess I didn’t realize the mass of people who also “liked” the idea. We will no longer engage in the negative people seem to want to throw around.

  • Anonymous

    Please consider having a page OUTSIDE of Facebook. If this is exclusive to that service, you will be locking out people who choose not to use it, or cannot access it.

    • Kennyfiddler

      See above. We are developing a web site. It’s not a project I’m involved with, so I cannot comment on the ETA. You may send inquiries to usamericancouncilofwitches@yahoo.com

  • Happydog1960

    I think it’s interesting that the group also wants to respond to “outspoken organizations [such] as David Barton’s Wallbuilders, who advocate a Federal acceptance that the Unites States is a Christian nation.”

    Helping the Army revise its Chaplains’ handbook is certainly worthy, but this secondary goal is perhaps as important, if not more so, than the primary goal. With the rise of extremist fundamentalist right-wing political “Christianity,” all of us would do well to work together to represent ourselves, despite the diversity of our beliefs.

    • Kennyfiddler

      That was my reason for jumping on board.

  • Kilmnrnock

    I’m w/ jason on this one , i do hope they contact other pagan groups, to incorporate us into the Army Handbook. W/ our now quite diverse community all our voices need to be heard and counted. Kilm

  • Kilmnrnock

    In responce to Joseph Nichter .The 13 princibles of Wiccan Practice document is still in tact and always will be .Tis just being updated for the US Army chaplains hand book , hopfully to include many more of us pagans . This is not an assult on Wiccans .I personaly am not Wiccan , i find it just a wee bit distubing that you don’t want it updated to include the rest of us pagans. Even if that was not your intent , that was how it sounds.Watch your wording , my freind . I too am glad the reformed council will be addressing our radical Xtian freinds statements and policies. This nonsence needs to be dealt w/ in a very public arena and exposed for what it really is, a violation of our constitutional rights. Kilm

    • Anonymous

      It could and has been argued with varying degrees of success IMHO that Wicca is a branch of Christianity as practiced at the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, Modernists who were called witches by the Catholic Church and other Universalists, call this a heretical opinion and now have chosen to call it conspiracy theory. So while I don’t know Joseph Nichter to whom you were replying, I wonder if he’s not correct.

      • Anonymous

        hcarter wrote:
        It could and has been argued with varying degrees of success IMHO that Wicca is a branch of Christianity as practiced at the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, Modernists who were called witches by the Catholic Church and other Universalists, call this a heretical opinion and now have chosen to call it conspiracy theory. So while I don’t know Joseph Nichter to whom you were replying, I wonder if he’s not correct.

        Anyone else thinking that this word salad was brought to you by a spambot?

      • http://twitter.com/happydog1960 Mark

        um…uh…OK…have you considered Depakote?

  • Wahoo313

    What’s wrong with the principles as written in 1974?

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      If someone has the inclination (and in one case the ability to read something that reads like it was passed through Google translate a few dozen times) to agree with them, then that’s their affair, but suggesting that people who’d been practising different forms of witchcraft were unethical because they weren’t suddenly prepared to start believing in (or miraculously able to parse) Weschcke’s 13 dogmata, was BS.
      Since then it’s gotten worse as people started paying attention to them in the nineties and even those of us not covered by the phrase “as American witches” sometimes have to put up with people objecting to our not agreeing with them.

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      If someone has the inclination (and in one case the ability to read something that reads like it was passed through Google translate a few dozen times) to agree with them, then that’s their affair, but suggesting that people who’d been practising different forms of witchcraft were unethical because they weren’t suddenly prepared to start believing in (or miraculously able to parse) Weschcke’s 13 dogmata, was BS.
      Since then it’s gotten worse as people started paying attention to them in the nineties and even those of us not covered by the phrase “as American witches” sometimes have to put up with people objecting to our not agreeing with them.

    • Jet

      They don’t accurately reflect reality.

    • AnonGuest

      The link is above.
      I wasn’t familiar with them until today. After reading it, I got a rather disturbing mental image of somebody swearing oaths to keep to them, which I hope was just my imagination

  • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

    Did they not do enough damage in the seventies? There are still people who expect people to agree with those stupid thirteen dogmas (even if we’re not American).
    I can look at the legacy of the last lot as a matter of religious difference – though their believers are less often inclined to return such a view of those of us who don’t agree – but this time we’ve an opportunity to stop the nonsense before it begins.

  • Deborah Bender

    “No doubt they’ll be in touch with present day active Pagan organizations like COG, Circle Sanctuary, the ADF, the Troth, and others, as things move along.”

    I certainly hope they heed your gentle suggestion. The Covenant of the Goddess is the oldest multi-traditional Craft organization in North America. It was founded partly in response to the collapse of the original American Council of Witches. CoG has a track record of legal recognition and of representation of Witches and Pagans in national interfaith work. CoG’s membership includes a very wide range of covens and individual practitioners. Input from CoG would enhance the credibility of whatever statements this project eventually issues.

    • Kennyfiddler

      It is our intention to have CoG represented in the Council. The Church Of All Worlds is represented, as is Blue Star Wicca. My own goal is to have voices of as many recognized Pagan and Wiccan groups as possible within the voice of the Council. Our goal is to be as inclusive as we can, NOT to be exclusive or create doctrine that is alienating to any Pagan practice.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        So, who are you talking to in the ATC?

  • Kilmnrnock

    Whats wrong w/ the priciples as written in 1974? As a document as it was meant to be ? , nothing. But as information to be used by the US Army , alot . This information is used for all Pagans in the US military and generaly used by all branches . From my understanding all the Army wants is an updated version that is inclusive of all types of pagans . Not all pagans follow Wiccan Ideals and assumptions . Since 74 our community, that of paganism as a whole , has become alot more diverse. Do you think a Heathen, Asatru, or Druid wants to be judged by wiccan standards? Nor should they be . I think the organisations name should be changed to the Council of Witches and Pagans .The rest of us need to be heard and counted. Kilm

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      You can add Wiccans to that list. The 13 principles have nothing to do with most of us, just with an offshoot of an offshoot.

    • Joseph Nichter

      “This information is used for all Pagans in the US military and generally used by all branches . From my understanding all the Army wants is an updated version that is inclusive of all types of pagans . Not all pagans follow Wiccan Ideals and assumptions.”

      However it does in fact state that it is an excerpt on Wicca specifically. Why do we need to change an excerpt on Wicca to accommodate all Pagan traditions? Why don’t they generate excepts for each of the main traditions you have mentioned above?

      The other branches of the Government do produce manuals that acknowledge Pagan traditions separately such as Wicca and Asatru, in the same manner they don’t lump Catholics and Protestants together.

  • Joseph Nichter

    The 13 principles are not actually listed in the Chaplains Manual, in fact I cannot even find a reference to them at all.

    So what exactly is the connection between the need for revising the chaplain manual and the need to revise the 13 principles? Because I don’t see one at all.

    The chaplains manual could definably use some work, but I fail to see how that necessitates the need for all this hoopla. It only causes me to question motives.

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      They aren’t in it or the earlier versions, it’s a story found in some of the books published by Weschcke’s company to hype them.

  • Cara

    The Army no longer uses the Handbook for Chaplain’s – and phased it out in the mid1990′s. They use online training for World Religions. If they are deploying, they also have face2face training directly from leaders of all kinds of religions – including Wicca. The thought is that when soldiers deploy, they don’t have access to their usual spiritual mentors so Chaplains need to step in a fill that role.

    This raises questions. Is the Army planning on bringing the Handbook back to life? If so, why now? And how will that affect their online and face2face training?

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Great questions all, Cara. I hope they are forthcoming.

    • http://blog.chasclifton.com Chas Clifton

      As I said earlier, the “Army” part of this just does not add up. (And what about the other military branches?) *Who* in the Army requested the alleged revision? Everyone seems to dance around that question.

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      Unfortunately not all chaplains have that training, Cara… which is why young soldiers keep calling my husband and myself for advice two days before a holiday in a panic about gaining permission for a small gathering. There are at least five ARmy units that I know of that have had neither online nor face to face training, and the chaplains were utterly clueless as to Wiccan or neo-Pagans’ customs, holidays and traditions. Each unit seems to require something different… a legally recognized church to back up the young soldiers’ claim that the holiday is valid, approval for leading a rite, and so forth. It’s very disorganized, and some universal plan is drastically needed.

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        “It’s very disorganized.” Like my unit was. I was at one of the few posts that had an established and reputable open circle, but I still caught a lot of flak from fellow soldiers and NCOs who just didn’t know anything. I definitely see the need for something like this council and this document. Some even called me lazy, thinking I was just using it as an excuse to not go on details (the details on sunday almost always started at the same time as the pagan service). I was considered by some to be a bad soldier because they didn’t like my religion. They made fun of me saying that they were going to be cursed simply because I made a corn dolly and Brigid’s cross and kept it by my bed. They constantly said things like “don’t make him mad, he’ll turn you into a frog” or “watch out, he’ll hex you!” There is a need for this kind of document within the government, ESPECIALLY in the military. No one should ever be called a bad or lazy soldier, or made fun of for keeping religious items.

      • Schulzcaral

        OK. But the group has now acknowledged that their statement that the US Army contacted them to have them revise the Wicca section of the handbook was false. It didn’t happen. So if the US Army isn’t requesting it, how effective will it be to create it and had it to them? I don’t know. It may be welcomed by individual Chaplains, but those would be the Chaplains who actively seek out information anyway.

        As for the training Chaplains receive – they don’t receive too much when they are state-side as the military figures the service member can go to their own religious mentor. It’s when they get ready to deploy that Chaplains receive f2f training on minority religions.

        • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

          So now this whole project is starting out as a lie? I was wondering why the Army could contact Kaye to do a “revision”.

  • Aidan Kelly

    Back in the 1980s, the DOD put out a formal RFP for a rewriting of itrhe chaplain’s handbook. J. Gordon Melton, Ph.D., a professional writer (actually, about the most prolific author of reference books on religion of modern times), won the contract. As a result, he was able to include many of the newer religious movements in it. These included Witchcraft, both Gardnerian and generic (both written by Judy Harrow, whose expertise can hardly be doubted), as well as Satanism, Scientology, and various others. It was this listing that first gave Wicca some Federal standing as a serious religion. I don’t have a copy of it at hand to see whether it did include the thirteen principles that Carl wrote up, but I don’t think it did. (Gordon did include it in a different book.)

    Hence the idea that a professional psychic in Chicago received this request from (perhaps) Oberon does not fit my concept of how the DOD does business. The list of names of traditions and religions on their website (or page) is the equivalent of a list written by someone who, for example, does not understand the difference between Christianity, Judaism, and Theosophy. Also, the idea that a group of 13 could adequately represent all the major Traditions of the Craft, let alone all the religious groups that might be described as Pagan, is so ridiculous that I won’t waste time in ridiculing it. Furthermore, the Craft movement is NOT a subset of the Pagan movement; they are two different movements that overlap.

    • Peg

      I think Aidan raises some good points.

      I am finding this whole endeavor to be a bit questionable, but having only read this article and thread thus far I am sure there is more to it. But is it really the army that has requested a revision of this document? And if so, why is there a need to form a new council?

      I also find the “U. S. American” title to be confusing and unfortunately reminiscent of that extremely embarrassing speech by the would-be beauty queen.

    • Ursyl

      Considering the recent Pentacle quest, I would think that if some branch in the Pentagon was looking for information to be included in updating Chaplain information on Paganism (in general), that they’d be contacting those who worked with (against?) them on getting the Pentacle allowed on military headstones.

    • Rev Kaye Berry

      Geesh, I can see this has gone further than intended.

      fact: I am the one that has received MANY calls from various Government, many State Offices, Jails, Inmates. The list goes on….
      fact: I and a handful of OTHERS discussed this adventure for several months before taking this project on.

      fact: This project IS GOING ON with or without your ok. Simple as that.

      fact: We are using the OLD Army Chaplain Manual as a reference. A copy will be distributed to the different departments of our Military as A GUIDE.

      Do you wish to add to these Guides? If not fine, if so great to have you.r input.

      I am so much more than a Psychic, Aidan as you stated, but of course you cant see further than than your own nose.

      This is America folks, join in or not, you have a choice.

      • Hbuchy

        “fact: This project IS GOING ON with or without your ok. Simple as that.”
        heh. that’s an interesting sentiment.

        • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

          If by interesting you mean makes me not want to give any sort of support whatsoever XD

          • Hbuchy

            yup.

      • Robert

        I don’t know which state prison systems have contacted you, but as the Wiccan representative to the Michigan Department of Corrections Chaplains’ Advisory Council I can tell you that we did not.

        Each state has their own guidelines and their own handbook, and as far as I can tell there is no mandate to draw from, utilize, or copy a federal handbook of any form. I happen to be in the middle of re-writing the appropriate chapter for ours, is how I know.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        Ad hominem attacks do little to further your cause, and an attitude like “This project IS GOING ON with or without your ok. Simple as that.” is just about the best way I can think of to make the Pagan community unify *against* your project.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          Please tell me how that was an attack?

          • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

            Well, you had this: “…of course you cant see further than than your own nose.”

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            And in the previous post, the other person was complaining for Oberon going to this person and saying well if that’s how the dod does business…

            Fair is fair, I say.

          • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

            The OP posted their experience and knowledge of how the DOD does business, which isn’t an attack. Rather than replying thoughtfully, Rev. Berry’s response was, ‘This project IS GOING ON with or without your ok.’. Maybe it’s just silly old me, but I read that as ‘we are unwilling to take criticism’. Which is what a lot of people have offered: criticism. Not attacks.

          • Blackbird

            What I read was “I’m tired of the negativity aimed at this project.” If one doesn’t want to be involved, then it’s simple – don’t be.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

          Please don’t speak for me. I am part of the Pagan community, and I have no intention of unifying against this project. Now, if someone wants to unify against gratuitous rudeness, I’m all for that. I’ve seen a ton of it on this thread and it wasn’t from Ms. Berry.

      • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

        Can you tell any details apart from ‘many’ government and state offices?

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        Well, that post was a quick way to lose support for your project.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          They’ve got a point. If someone doesn’t like what they’re doing, they can either join in and change it, or stay out. There’s no need for marginalization as was the case in the post that Kaye responded to.

          • http://tairis-cr.blogspot.com Tairis

            Yeah sure, people can either join in or not. Except then the council will be presuming to speak for traditions that potentially have no input, no say, in how their beliefs are represented or misrepresented. Regardless of whether or not said traditions even want to be associated with this council.

            The sentiment – ‘This project IS GOING ON with or without your ok. Simple as that’ – comes off as extremely arrogant and antagonistic.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            Hello! They’re ASKING for peoples input!

          • http://tairis-cr.blogspot.com Tairis

            Yes, Nicholas. They’re asking for people’s input, but at the end of the day statements like that only suggest that such input doesn’t really matter.

        • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

          I’m just wondering why the Army would contact Kaye. They have MANY other resources for contacting. I have been walking this path for 25 years and I have NEVER heard of Kaye Berry– I only found a few blurbs of her on Yahoo and it wasn’t anything fantastic.

          • Anonymous

            Apparently that particular detail was an untruth. Which, in my book, is plenty good reason to give absolutely NO assistance to this ‘project’ whatsoever.

    • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

      basically, if you don’t care, then why are you even bothering to comment? Also, the craft movement is so intertwined with the pagan movement, they are ALMOST one and the same. As for the number of people on a board, what would suit you? 26? 39? 52? The more people you have, the more cumbersome the policy-making process becomes. The larger the governing body, the more things get lost in committee and sub-committee. What would you suggest? At least they are making an attempt at interfaith work between pagan religions, something this community has been sorely lacking. Let’s not get dragged back into the witch wars, thanks very much.

      • Kerri Connor

        “Also, the craft movement is so intertwined with the pagan movement, they are ALMOST one and the same”

        I guarantee there are far more people who would NOT agree with that statement than those who would.

        Isn’t one of the major points of Paganism that we don’t have a ton of dogma? Isn’t this project saying that not only do your beliefs have to have dogma — if they don’t then they aren’t “real”?

        Feels like a trap.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          There’s a difference between dogma and definition, and yes, we need definition. I don’t understand why people are mistaking one for the other. If we do not define ourselves, we leave that job to people and organizations that are less than hospitable.

          • Kerri Connor

            So we are going to give the job to 13 people to Define the beliefs of hundreds of different traditions and belief systems?

            If this request really did come from the Army – which I’m seeing in some posts that it didn’t — I would be rather suspicious. Isn’t one of the beliefs of Wicca to “harm none”? So you have a self proclaimed council of witches who writes up document after document after document of what different traditions live by and you hand it over to the government. So the government can turn around and say, ok, well now we have all this documentation on what you’re all supposed to believe — doesn’t this give them AMMUNITION to actually remove people from the military?

            IF you claim to be of a belief system that believes in harm none, the military can say — ok well then that means you aren’t going to follow orders and therefore this will only lead to insubordination so out you go. OR for the person who does not live by “harm none” that person is defined as having poor character for NOT believing in their tenants of their own self proclaimed religion, and also kicked out.

            I just really can’t understand what the point of this is supposed to be. I’m also very concerned about a group of 13 deciding what everone else’s beleifs are.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            You know you can be a conscientious objector in the military, right? The military isn’t going to go and say to an able bodied person who is ready and willing, that they can’t be in their ranks. That’s ridiculous. Were they to do that, they would lose several thousand soldiers. Aside from that, harm none is not as out of line with military service as some like to think.

          • Kerri Connor

            “The military isn’t going to go and say to an able bodied person who is ready and willing, that they can’t be in their ranks.”

            Seriously? You know how many people get turned down every day? What do you think will happen to the gays in the military that have come out the next time a republican wins the presidential election?

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            They aren’t deciding, they’re trying to document a basic overview of the major traditions. Why is everyone so goddamn afraid that someone else is going to tell them how to believe?

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          There’s a difference between dogma and definition, and yes, we need definition. I don’t understand why people are mistaking one for the other. If we do not define ourselves, we leave that job to people and organizations that are less than hospitable.

      • Anonymous

        “The more people you have, the more cumbersome the policy-making process becomes.”

        And just WHO do you think all of you are to be making ANY kind of policy that impacts pagans IN THE FIRST PLACE?
        The arrogance displayed by this group runs totally contrary to the values that led folks to a pagan path from the start.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          Policy making within the group, not for the entire community. What they are trying to do for the community is summarize for government agencies what the different paths are, not how you personally live them.

          • AnonGuest

            I really don’t want someone doing this supposedly on behalf of myself if it resembles the original 13 principles or some such. Some of us have had experience with the government messing with them based on their religious beliefs in custody cases, the last thing we need is more inaccurate general information about paganism or witchcraft being fed government agencies.
            As to the original 1974 document, it seems to suggest that to be “right” a group has to not have a heirarchy, a leader/founder/HP/HPS/etc. etc.
            About that same time people were trying open “pod” classrooms and other ideas that were also meant to be non-heirarchal, but those are faded away becuase to get work done in a small kitchen, someone has to be the chief cook. Anyway.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            I’m breaking my vow of avoiding Patheos by replying to this, but I just have to say that the whole point of this council seems to be revision, not reprinting.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        “At least they are making an attempt at interfaith work between pagan religions, something this community has been sorely lacking. Let’s not get dragged back into the witch wars, thanks very much.”

        Whoa. There are a whole lot of people engaging in intracommunity interfaith work. Lots and lots and lots of us. Just because we’re not running around forming up big groups and advertising that we’re writing some big statement of principles does *not* mean that the work isn’t being done.

        Frankly, I think we need a whole lot less of people thinking we need central structure and policy and a whole lot more feet on the ground doing intracommunity work.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        “At least they are making an attempt at interfaith work between pagan religions, something this community has been sorely lacking. Let’s not get dragged back into the witch wars, thanks very much.”

        Whoa. There are a whole lot of people engaging in intracommunity interfaith work. Lots and lots and lots of us. Just because we’re not running around forming up big groups and advertising that we’re writing some big statement of principles does *not* mean that the work isn’t being done.

        Frankly, I think we need a whole lot less of people thinking we need central structure and policy and a whole lot more feet on the ground doing intracommunity work.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          Are there any sites I can go to or documents I can read? Surely since interfaith work is being done, there are resources you can point me to about said work?

          • Schulzcaral

            Circle and Lady Liberty League does a whole lot of Intrafaith work. As does Sacred Paths Center. As does the new Pagan community center in DC. As does Cherry Hill Seminary. As did the Pagan Military Network. As most of the major festivals. As does Hail Columbia. The list of groups, large and small, doing intrafaith work is long and all around us.

          • Schulzcaral

            And … to point to a project I’m involved in – International Pagan Coming Out Day has a strong intrafatih component.

          • Kerri Connor

            my group is small but we do interfaith projects ourselves such as volunteering at the PADS shelters which are all in churches.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            I’m afraid some existing groups like to posture. I’m hoping this will breathe in new life to intrafaith work.

          • Blackbird

            Military Pagan Network disbanded last year.

          • Cara

            At Blackbird – that’s why I used “Did” instead of “does”.

          • Blackbird

            And I was clarifying for those who may not be aware of that though there are still those who post on the yahoo group.

          • Oberon

            Here is an excerpt from the FAQ sheet created by the Papal Apology Committee in 1999. This is the most recent attempt I know of to create such a statement by a pan-Pagan Council representing dozens of discrete Pagan Paths; Whaddya think of these?

            3-Q: What do Pagans believe?
            A: Just as there is a wide variety of Pagan traditions, so there is variety in Pagan beliefs. The beliefs listed here are those held by most Pagan groups:
            • Pagans believe that all life–human and non-human, animate and inanimate–is an expression of the universal/divine mind or energy, a part of which is contained in everything.
            • Pagans believe that all things are interconnected and interdependent, both ecologically and spiritually. Communication and cooperation among all elements of the material and spiritual world is possible.
            • Pagans believe diversity of religious expression is a part of human nature and a positive outlet for our natural urge to connect with the universe. Pagans encourage the questioning and exploration of god-images, worship forms, rituals, celebrations, and ethics; and for the most part hold creeds and dogmas to be unnecessary for spiritual growth.
            • Pagans believe that a variety of views on the nature of Deity is a part of the diversity of religious expression. Pagans may image Deity as it suits their personality, level of growth, and understanding, even to the inclusion of atheism and agnosticism. Some Pagans believe in deities as conscious, self-aware Beings which may be male or female; some view deities as numinous, archetypal, or elemental Energies. Many Pagans personify their images of Deity to make them more easily understood and explored. Most Pagans have strong personal relationships with their concepts of Deity, and strive to work in cooperation with them daily.
            • Pagans believe that all life is inherently good and oriented toward its own greatest growth, potential, and fulfillment. Evil is viewed as destructive behavior, not a state of being.
            • Pagans believe that since the nature of creation is good, salvation is unnecessary. Many Pagans believe in the Wiccan ethic: “If it harms none, do what you will.” This ethic may appear simplistic, but it is quite challenging to live. Although Pagan ethics seem to bring a high degree of freedom, they actually bring great responsibilities. In addition, many Pagans believe they will be held personally responsible for their choices in some fashion, either in this life, in an after-life, or in a reincarnation.
            • Pagans are encouraged to explore and test every idea they encounter, and to accept an idea as their own only if validated by personal experience. Pagan religious worship focuses on the experiential and utilizes singing, dance, movement, drumming, energy work, and healing.

            Paganism is not a “revealed” religion, like Christianity, Buddhism or Islam, based on the revelations and teachings of a founding prophet. Paganism is a tribal religion, like those of the Native Americans, and even the Jews. In a revealed religion, membership in the religious community is usually defined by believing in the teachings, or scriptures. In a tribal religion, membership is determined by one’s participation in the community, and belief is more a matter of personal conviction.

          • AnonGuest

            Oberon, Better than the 1970′s one, IMHO
            I think of life as more of a neutral thing, more like Nature herself is more complex than being always seeming kind.
            Not sure about all that last paragraph – said religions are too varied and complex to make those comparisons really work to my mind.
            But it’s all still an improvement to the 70′s one, though that one may have been seen as very nice in its day

        • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

          “Frankly, I think we need a whole lot less of people thinking we need central structure …” YES.

    • Laughing

      “(both written by Judy Harrow, whose expertise can hardly be doubted)”

      Ha!

  • http://www.animism.us Ani-mist

    Hopefully they will have the sense not to be so Wicca-centric this time. The current section in the chaplains handbook is very inaccurate because it is Wicca-centric… There are many forms of Paganism that have totally different views from Wicca

    • Kennyfiddler

      This project will NOT be Wicca-centric.

      • http://www.animism.us Ani-mist

        Good to hear. The current entry in the Chaplains handbook tries to classify all Pagan paths as branches of Wicca and that has caused problems for the rest of us..

  • Kerri Connor

    so when are the elections being held?

    • Kennyfiddler

      I believe the plan is to designate a Board made up of responsible members of the community (i.e. people willing to consider the needs of the community rather than pushing their own agenda), then come up with a viable election process. We want this to ultimately be a Board created by consensus of the community.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        Hi, Kenny,

        I’ve “liked” your FB page (despite my being in the process of shifting to Diaspora) and read the info on the info page, but I still have a few questions.

        Who are the members of the Council, so far? All I’ve seen yet indicates that Oberon Zell, yourself, and Kaye are, but I’ve not seen any other names.

        What Traditions have you reached out to for inclusion?

        What non-Wiccan groups have you reached out to?

        Have you considered an “at large” member to undertake the daunting task of speaking for Solitaries?

        Beyond revising the 13 Principles and stepping aside from this business of the Chaplains’ Handbook, what other goals does the organisation have?

        I’ve seen a note from one of you (Kaye, I think?) stating that you’re waiting for donations to get a webpage going. Have you created any binding documents indicating where the money goes? Who is the Treasurer?

        Do you have plans to incorporate as a 501(c)3?

        Do you have a mailing list for folks who are more allergic to FB than I am to be involved?

        Thank you very kindly for your time!

        • Kennyfiddler

          Excellent questions. I’ll answer as well as I can at this point.

          I think Kaye may have gotten the ball rolling a little prematurely. There are as yet, as far as I know, no concrete board members. I believe we are simply in the stages of identifying members and requesting that they come aboard.

          My input to the Council has been that each Board member represent a different Pagan tradition. I am Blue Star Wiccan, Kaye in Native American, and Oberon is Church of All Worlds, so those are now covered. I have recommended members who are eclectic, Druid, Dianic, Alexandrian and Pirate Pagan (yes, really). I really want to see all opinions represented here.

          I agree that it would be unrealistic to try to include EVERY Pagan tradition…however, I personally do not consider something a “tradition” until it is practiced over three Craft/Pagan generations (this is the way the term is used in Wicca, and it’s not a bad usage for these purposes). So if Joe says “I made up atradition last week, I wish to be included,” my personal opinion is that Joe should not, unless and until he has taught this tradition for a while and it stands the test of time. Traditions such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Dianic, Isian, ADF, Church of All Worlds, etc. are time honored and widespread enough that they each merit representation. Again, this reflects MY opinion and MY suggestion to the Council, and is NOT yet Council policy.

          I have been asked to do PR at this moment. This is proving a daunting task, especially since other than a mission statement and a press release, we don’t seem to have anything firm going on. However, I am not involved with the development of a web site or with any effort to garner donations (in fact I read that above just like you), so I cannot comment on either of those at this time. I have asked Kaye to supply me with more information so that I can.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Hi, Kenny! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

            Could you share contact information for folks who would like to contact you directly with regards to this? I don’t know who is answering the emails at the yahoo address that has been posted a couple of times in this thread, but since there seems to be a few different approaches being used by folks involved with the group at this point, some folks might prefer to deal with you, the PR person, directly. :)

            Thank you, again!!

          • Catherine

            Does this mean that you all won’t be recognizing or trying to represent those who aren’t part of an established tradition, like solitaries and eclectics?

          • Schulzcaral

            “I personally do not consider something a “tradition” until it is practiced over three Craft/Pagan generations”

            Kenny, if this is to be a Pagan effort and not only a Wiccan one, then you may want to reconsider this criteria. Heathens and other non-Wiccan Polytheists like AFD, for example) don’t have craft generations. We aren’t initiated, we don’t have lineages. Or is this criteria only applied to witch or Wiccan groups?

          • http://profiles.google.com/vanye111 Jason Hatter

            He did say, almost right after the part you quoted, “Traditions such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Dianic, Isian, ADF, Church of All Worlds, etc. are time honored and widespread enough that they each merit representation. ”

            Admittedly, there does need to be clarification (which of course, there will be, as this wasn’t the Official List,etc), but he does acknowledge that there are groups out there that don’t have lineages in the Wiccan style.

          • Kerri Connor

            I personally do not consider something a “tradition” until it is practiced over three Craft/Pagan generations……

            and this is the problem. How do we have people represent other Pagans if they themselves are not willing to consider something a tradition if it doesn’t fit their own definition of what a tradition should be?

            Isn’t this the exact problem that Pagans have been fighting with the government for years already?

          • Sky

            Kenny,

            I hope that Kaye is well versed in Indian Law and falls under either federal indian guidelines as an indian person or is recognized by the nation she is claiming if she plans to represent indigenous people. Either that, or I hope you have a really good attorney because you will be violating federal law. I have an idea of what Nation she is claiming and will be contacting the recognized bands of that Nation on Monday as well as organizations that work with the government regarding military and prisons. I have worked in both capacities and have never heard of her, I am also a member of one of the federally recognized bands of the Nation I believe she is claiming. Considering what she is offering on her website, I see little evidence that she has cultural ties to her claimed community as those ‘activities’ are not part of the nation she claims. Also, if she had cultural ties and respected her Elders she would not self-identify as a witch.

            Sky Davis

          • Sky

            Actually I think I’ll just be calling my Uncle who is on tribal counsel. I wasn’t aware that Resolution 6 (2022) passed on Thursday. The resolution states in part – “Fraudulent Cherokee identity is a direct attack on our Tribal sovereignty and an affront to our culture and traditions. We must protect our elders and traditionalists by stopping these groups and individuals from appropriating our culture, language and traditions.” http://www.nc-cherokee.com/theonefeather/2011/10/14/tribe-establishes-cherokee-identity-protection-committee/ FYI we have a kick ass legal department. And no this resolution is not in violation of constitutional rights, we are sovereign.

          • Sky

            That’s Resolution 6 (2011), sorry for the typo.

          • AnonGuest

            Where are the long-standing CM traditions represented here?

        • Kennyfiddler

          Excellent questions. I’ll answer as well as I can at this point.

          I think Kaye may have gotten the ball rolling a little prematurely. There are as yet, as far as I know, no concrete board members. I believe we are simply in the stages of identifying members and requesting that they come aboard.

          My input to the Council has been that each Board member represent a different Pagan tradition. I am Blue Star Wiccan, Kaye in Native American, and Oberon is Church of All Worlds, so those are now covered. I have recommended members who are eclectic, Druid, Dianic, Alexandrian and Pirate Pagan (yes, really). I really want to see all opinions represented here.

          I agree that it would be unrealistic to try to include EVERY Pagan tradition…however, I personally do not consider something a “tradition” until it is practiced over three Craft/Pagan generations (this is the way the term is used in Wicca, and it’s not a bad usage for these purposes). So if Joe says “I made up atradition last week, I wish to be included,” my personal opinion is that Joe should not, unless and until he has taught this tradition for a while and it stands the test of time. Traditions such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Dianic, Isian, ADF, Church of All Worlds, etc. are time honored and widespread enough that they each merit representation. Again, this reflects MY opinion and MY suggestion to the Council, and is NOT yet Council policy.

          I have been asked to do PR at this moment. This is proving a daunting task, especially since other than a mission statement and a press release, we don’t seem to have anything firm going on. However, I am not involved with the development of a web site or with any effort to garner donations (in fact I read that above just like you), so I cannot comment on either of those at this time. I have asked Kaye to supply me with more information so that I can.

        • Kerri Connor

          I could be nuts but pretty sure if they are going to ask for donations they have to incorporate as a 501 (c) 3 so they can get a solictor’s license.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            They don’t need 501(c)(3) status to solicit. They need it if their donors want to deduct their contributions on their Federal income tax.

          • Kerri Connor

            didn’t say they needed it to solicit said they would need it so they can get a solictor’s license. In many municipalities it’s illegal to solicit without a license. I also happen to run a 501 (c) 3 so do know a little about it. If you are going to ask people for donations — especially when it’s something that could be done for free, they should be offered the opportunity to be able to deduct their donations. Not too mention if this council isn’t legally organized in some manner, is anyone really going to take it that seriously?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Yes, it’s quite useful and probably best adopted from the beginning. That way one doesn’t need to recast one’s bookkeeping to 501(c)(3) standards.

  • Kilmrnock

    i’ m not talking about changing any info specificaly about wicca , we just wouid like to see more info about the other pagan paths as Mr Nichter suggests.Btw what does info published by other govt branches have to do with the military?I was speaking of the other military branches, navy ,air force etc. I have been told by freinds in the military, navy specificaly , that most military chaplans use the army chaplans handbook for reference. If this is true , about rewritting the handbook,i believe putting info about other pagan paths into the handbook would be a good idea.From what i’ve been reading here, i’m not even sure this is true now, we’ll see Kilm

  • Kilmrnock

    Am i correct , from everything i’ve read is the infomation the chaplans use , electronicaly or in print is Wicca centric ?From all the discussions here and info a freind told me , he was in the navy in the 80′s btw, i’m not really sure what the current data chaplans are given is .if anyone here knows for sure please let me know

    • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

      It’s the standard wicca centric info, but for services a lot of chaplains outsource to local pagan groups and they try to a very generic pagan service.

  • Anonymous

    First thing they should update is the organization name, drop “witches” replace with, I don’t know, maybe “pagans”. Then find enough non-Wiccans to actually make the thing potentially useful.
    Other than a certain set of authors from a particular publisher, I don’t know anyone who ever took the original principles/statements even at face value, let alone to heart, even back then.

  • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

    I’m sure someone here will find this interesting. It contains an excerpt from the manual.

    http://www.aren.org/documents/purplebook.pdf

  • Thekraft

    Donations for a web page? I have 2 web pages and paid for them myself. Also there are great free sites to do this. A council wants to be formed and they want donations? Don’t like it. Also why have a council? To dictate to us? Become an organised faith? I don’t live in the U.S but it is already a laughing matter outside the U.S within some of the Pagan groups.

    • Anonymous

      No only outside the US.

      • Thekraft

        No disrespect to anyone but people who are in favour of this are insecure to what they really believe in. If they need a council to help them then they are just like the others, insecure and unable to think for themselves. And why does the army have to get involved? I don’t know the U.S laws but it just seems a little silly. Where I live, the pagan/witches community is big and strong and it doesn’t need a council to speak for it. Maybe it is due to the open mindedness of the community, I don’t know but I would be very careful with something like this. Enjoy who you are now, live your faith as it should be – FREE just like it has been all these years! BB

        • Anonymous

          I’m not in disagreement with you, although in the past such organizations as Covenant of the Goddess were (and still are) useful in dealing governmental agencies and the like.

          However, there are far too many unknowns in this equation, especially considering that the Army Chaplain’s Handbook was discontinued over a decade ago, and that as yet, no specifics as to whom in which Agencies are requesting such updating. Sorry, but the way this has thus far been presented is not the way the US Government works.

          /s/ One of the several co-founders of COG in 1975, and one who had “pagan’ listed as religious preference back in 1976 while on active duty USN.

          • Thekraft

            Understand what you are saying. Well, if this does go ahead, I hope it is for the best for all the Pagan community and not just centre around “witch” as witches also form part of the Pagan umbrella. Good luck! :-)

          • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

            Want to point out that my husband and his best friend had to fight for Pagan on dogtags again in 1986 and a young man had to fight for it AGAIN in the current conflict, which is why we need some written guidelines and policies for the military. We oughtn’t to have to keep fighting the same fight, over and over.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            We have to keep fighting the same fight with the Army over and over for the same reason we have to keep fighting zoning boards over and over and public school dress codes over and over. Even our successful complaints never get taken high enough for a definitive adjudication that everyone in that category of authority (school board, zoning commission, etc) has to follow.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            Funny, the Army worked like this when I was in. But then again the update states that this isn’t specifically for the Army. I wasn’t surprised in the least that the Army might have gone about doing things like this though.

        • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

          I can answer that… when my husband was in the military, we had challenges with him getting days off to celebrate holidays with the family, being able to leave base to go to gatherings, having his religious designation on his dog tags, and if he were hurt or killed in combat, he would have had a Christian minister do Christian rites to send him to heaven. While we applaud Christian chaplains for helping their own people, we do not wish to have them pray or do their religious rites for us. Pagan soldiers may also have difficulty using traditional medicines and herbs, drumming and doing trancework, and so forth, as it was not understood in the military context. They might be forced to attend some type of chapel that they don’t agree with. Having some form of written-down guide, such as the military chaplains’ handbook, made it much easier. Our soldiers in combat have told me that they feel much happier and safer knowing that they have “Pagan” on their dog tags and Pagan rites in a book, in case the worst happens, so a well-meaning but ignorant Christian chaplain will know what to do.

        • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

          I can answer that… when my husband was in the military, we had challenges with him getting days off to celebrate holidays with the family, being able to leave base to go to gatherings, having his religious designation on his dog tags, and if he were hurt or killed in combat, he would have had a Christian minister do Christian rites to send him to heaven. While we applaud Christian chaplains for helping their own people, we do not wish to have them pray or do their religious rites for us. Pagan soldiers may also have difficulty using traditional medicines and herbs, drumming and doing trancework, and so forth, as it was not understood in the military context. They might be forced to attend some type of chapel that they don’t agree with. Having some form of written-down guide, such as the military chaplains’ handbook, made it much easier. Our soldiers in combat have told me that they feel much happier and safer knowing that they have “Pagan” on their dog tags and Pagan rites in a book, in case the worst happens, so a well-meaning but ignorant Christian chaplain will know what to do.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          Where does it cost anything here? Governments have chaplains for different facilities and institutions and they have to know the basics of many faith paths to effectively cater to practioners of each path. It supporting something that documents the pagan paths has nothing to with being insecure.

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          Where does it cost anything here? Governments have chaplains for different facilities and institutions and they have to know the basics of many faith paths to effectively cater to practioners of each path. It supporting something that documents the pagan paths has nothing to with being insecure.

        • Blackbird

          I’m a Celtic Reconstructionist and have been such for over a decade. I can assure you I’m not “insecure” in my beliefs. If you know anything about my tradition, then you will understand it is quite the contrary. I support the goals BECAUSE I’m a minority within a minority and there needs to be representation for such groups. You can either be proactive and help or be a jerk and do, well, what you’re doing. ;)

          Agreeing with the GOALS and agreeing with the final product, however are two separate issues.

  • http://tairis-cr.blogspot.com Tairis

    The fact that they’re looking to include a variety of pagans and polytheists is great, but with the name of ‘Council of Witches’ it’s only going to cause problems in the long run. ADF, Troth, many other traditions and recon groups (perhaps in particular for the latter) don’t have much to do with witchcraft. For some of us, the idea of witchcraft is totally antithetical to what we do, even.

    I’m not sure how this council can claim, or aim, to be representative when their very name is a fundamental misrepresentation of so many groups that can be lumped under the Pagan umbrella.

    • http://www.paganachd.com/faq/intro.html Kathryn NicDhàna

      Seconding this. Thanks, Seren.

      In general:

      I have been following this discussion, but as “Councils of Witches” have nothing to do with my faith or practice, I did not feel a need to comment before now.

      My read of this situation is that the people who want to form, be on, or influence this “council” seem to mostly consist of Wiccans, Neo-Wiccans and the particular Pagans who fit into Wiccan constructs. It looks like most of the people in this group do not want to be represented by non-Pagans when it comes to decisions that may be made in the military or prisons. This is understandable.

      So please extend the same courtesy to those of us who do not want to be represented by a group that calls itself “A Council of Witches”. A “Council of Witches” has nothing to do with the Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) or Gaelic Polytheist (GP) communities. Please, Wiccans, Witches, and other Pagans not of our faith, do not try to represent us.

      And if you consider yourself to be of our faith, please understand that a founding, foundational principle of CR and GP is that we respect community, tradition, and our Elders (such as we have). Any attempt at representation must be backed by the consensus of longstanding community members, and not by people we don’t know proclaiming themselves representatives.

  • Crick

    I hate to keep playing the Devil’s advocate. But the so called American Council of Witches is yet another self proclaimed group that represents no one but themselves. Wiccans are not witches as a witch would never limit their growth by belonging to a religion. Most of the pre-Gardner pagan paths around the world have nothing to do with the European descent Wiccans that hold the utopian concept of a so called pagan community. Such a community is a misnomer as Neo Pagans support no one outside of their personal agendas. It is what it is. As a Trditional witch who has been on this path since 1960, no one outside of our clan represents me or our beliefs. We are not Neo Pagans and thus do not subscribe to the idealistic tenets that are espouced on the Internet but which do not have a toehold in reality.
    The Internet created a psuedo pagann community that sounds nice but is non-existant in everyday life. Neo Pagan groups just a few miles apart won’t lift a finger to help out each other as each one wants to be “It”. And so we have yet another “It” group forming on the Internet. Swell…

    Crick

    • deerwoman

      “Wiccans are not witches as a witch would never limit their growth by belonging to a religion.”

      I also consider myself a non-Wiccan Witch, but I would not say that having a religion, especially a Pagan/polytheistic one, limits my growth. I think perhaps you are saddling the term “religion” with unnecessary baggage from its association with highly-organized, monotheistic religions, which I admit have tarnished the term.

      I’ve only been studying forms of (European-based) Traditional Witchcraft for a few years now and I’m aware that they are very diverse, but so far everything I’ve come across includes at least some reference to Deities, spirits, or at least a conception of a sentient world outside humanity. (Even Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, usually upheld as a guide to purely operative witchcraft sans “religion”, mentions Gods briefly.) There also seems to be common ritual formats, liturgy, and symbolism within the individual Traditions. In my mind, these things add up to religion.

      However, you and I may be using “Traditional Witchcraft” in a different context and it’s entirely possible that your clan practices a form of Witchcraft I have never encountered previously. I’d be curious to learn how you choose to refer to your own belief system and why you think it would not or should not be considered a religion.

      As far as the NeoPagan community is concerned, I honestly don’t have much experience with it offline, but I do appreciate the strides it has made in promoting my rights as a member of a minority religion/worldview/belief system. Organizations and individuals have worked together towards constructive ends, so I do not think it is purely idealism without any material basis.

    • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

      That’s assuming that this group is being limited to “neo-pagans”, which it seems it is not. I personally don’t care much for the term “neo-pagan” but that’s beside the point.

  • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

    I put this on my G+ account and now I’m putting it here.

    Really people? You’re offended? You feel attacked because someone said you can’t see past your own nose? Let’s be clear here, this is not an attempt to tell you how to live, this is an attempt to tell the government agencies how you worship, so that when a chaplain or someone else asks, they have an official document you can point them to. Let’s not forget that definition is not dogma. And sometimes a little bit of dogma isn’t a bad thing either. Some are so f*****g paranoid about dogma that they forget that their own religion has dogma. Now, how is supporting a document that’s drawn up by pagans for use by government agencies seen as a sign of being insecure in your faith?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      1.) I may not worship the way they tell people I worship, which could lead to my being classified as not-Pagan, aka not-acceptable, by the government agencies this is provided to.

      2.) The military hasn’t used handbooks since ’93 and there are already Pagans educating military chaplains in less archaic ways.

      3.) Maybe you should read all the comments before you get on your soapbox.

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        Of course they’re not going to get into the nitty gritty details of every single Wiccan tradition. That would be akin to a religious textbook version of War and Peace. This would provide an overview of belief and defining key terms and tenets of belief. To get more than an overview, that’s where the rest of the chaplain’s training comes in by meeting with different faith groups. As for the military not using handbooks, I have quite a few that were issued to me just last year, granted they’re not to do with the chaplaincy. So, in some cases, they do still use manuals and informational pamphlets alongside actual physical training.

        • Cara

          The military hasn’t used the handbooks in question since 1993.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            My god, I UNDERSTAND that, but I would NOT be surprised in the least if they tried to bring back something like that. It wouldn’t be the first time the military has taken a step back on training. Though keep in mind that the update on this story states that this is not specifically for the military.

          • Cara

            Just noting that the handbook statement was just about one specific one, not all handbooks.

  • Kilmrnock

    I agree with some of the other commentors here. To be an orginasation that represents all pagans they need to change the name , to per say add
    ” and pagans” to the end of it .Many groups , my self included, are not wiccan . And to my Wiccan freinds …….i[we] have no intent to change or modify your precious 13 princibles list .From what i do understand , most pagan groups do have atleast some simularities as has been stated here. I’m Sinnsreadh, a celtic path, we have alot in common w/ other earth/nature based systems including wicca , just slightly different ritual methods and a few pure celtic mindset differences , but enuf we don’t call ourselves witches , and we are true polytheists as are most non wiccan pagans . All i’m saying is if an organisation wants to represent all pagans the name and membership needs to reflect that goal.

  • Kilmrnock

    Sinnsreachd, sorry speeling error

  • Em

    I am an HPS in the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca, a practitioner of secular Witchcraft and also practice culturally based deity observation native and local to my area- in this regard I might fall into the Celtic-Recon category. I do all of these things seperately to the other. I do not currently live in the USA but will do in the not-to-distant-future when I hope to make it my home and begin my family.

    The very idea of this council leaves a sour taste in my mouth! My first reaction is : “What gives Americans the sense of entitlement such that they can again re-define witchcraft and Wicca?”

    To my mind, the original council was a sham and their principles did not reflect my craft or tradition, nor it’s related traditions. It seems in hindsight, while the best of intentions may have been held by some members, to have been largely about making Witchcraft palatable enough to sell large quantities of books in mainstream stores.

    The output of the original council, the 13 principles were never ‘Wicca Centric’ because they were utterly irrelevant to Wicca. The reality is that the 13 Principles had and have little to do with traditions like Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca in the UK and Europe yet by virtue of the first council, the world attempts to define us by such. I have spent much of the last decade in particuluar trying to dispell the myths that the original council propogated.

    If it were just a matter of insular advices to the various agents of federal government fine. But that is not what happens. What happens is a populist agenda feeds a populist mass who proceed to shove their ideals down others’ throats. Please don’t shove your populist ideals down mine! Please don’t define me without knowing me. Please don’t define the diversity of many hundreds of individually distinct paths by homoginizing them into their externally percieved similarities. We have but one thing in common. We do not worship the God of Abraham. Beyond that, we have little in common.

    If I were to take but a few points from the old principles to demonstrate; I am not an earth worshipper, nor do I wish to be. I do not seek harmony with nature. I do not believe there is potential in all commers to become competent Witches. I recognize a hierarchy, not a universal one, but a hierarchy nontheless. I do not see Witchcraft and Wicca as being interchangable terms. By the liturgy of my tradition, I must recognize the ‘hell of the Christians’ and therefore it’s overseer ‘the Devil’. I do not see the function or definition of Witchcraft as being the control over nor manipulation of any forces, it can be, but that does not define it.

    Even the remit of this new group is again seeking to unify by virtue of ‘nature worship’. I am not a nature worshipper. Wicca as I know it is not a nature religion. The old principles do not define, or even come close to defining, principles underpinning Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism as I know it, was taught it and will teach it for many more years to come. A ‘revised’ set of such principles will be equally unfitting because as I said, there is only one thing that holds true for all. We do not worship the Abrahamic God. Even then, there are Witches who are entirely Secular or even Christian! So perhaps even that similarity is not wholly valid either! In that case, there is nothing common to all. So why homogonize?

    If someone has a legal issue stemming from their religion, then get a Lawyer. If the Army needs to or wants to update their handbook, go research it Gods know they have enough money and people power.

    Do not seek to speak for others. If you hold your council, know that it is not in my name!

    • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

      Agree with what you wrote, until the ‘get a lawyer’ part. Going to court is expensive, especially if you’re going against the government, a big company, etc… and I think we should support groups that fight for the legal rights of Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, etc. I also feel that we shouldn’t give out material that misrepresents Pagans though, for the reason Star Foster stated above: ‘I may not worship the way they tell people I worship, which could lead to my being classified as not-Pagan, aka not-acceptable, by the government agencies this is provided to.’

      • Em

        I would be stalwart and stand by the ‘get a lawyer’ comment. There are two primary reasons for this:
        1) There are such people as Pagan and pagan friendly Lawyers and many do Pro-Bono work. Perhaps the better work of what such a council can do is network sympathethic professionals etc.
        2) Many of the cases in things such as unfair dismissal etc. that I have read have occurred in the first place because of an insistence on being overt about ones religion. All three of my practices teach personal responsibility and projecting thought to potential outcomes. Many peoples paths teach this sort of thing. Therefore, as harsh as it may sound, there are instances where a person must accept the consequences of what might well be their wanton display of religious paraphenailia or dress, excessive discussion or whatever it is that may have prompted the awarness in the first place. Perhaps it’s just the European in me, but I do not think the general public is the most appropriate place to assert your religious convictions.

        As I said, perhaps there is some use in a body able to coordinate willing contacts for ‘pagan friendly’ (whatever that might be, vague and all as it is) professional services but a body that dictates to the world what I or any other believes is worse than any infringement on an individuals personal constitutional rights or even fundamental human rights because it is a mass offensive to the same rights of many hundreds if not thousands of others. It is one thing to protect the rights of those claiming infringement via offense, it is entirely another to dictate to the masses what they should believe, and worse, to misinform the world as to the nature of their devotion or practice. It is a moral and ethical bind that would best be avoided at all costs. On reflection of this point, I am quite amazed that three purported authorities or elders should desire to freely enter into such an obvious no-win-scenario and I therefore cannot help but conclude that questions of motive arise that I doubt can ever be satisfactorly be answered.

        • AnonGuest

          The victim blaming in your response has got to go. Really.

  • Hbuchy

    “drawing down the moon” Margot Adler.
    That’s a pretty comprehensive guide with input from all sorts of paths. Why not just recommend that?

    • Blackbird

      Comprehensive, but by no means all encompassing.

      • Hbuchy

        it’s available now, rather than a few years from now.” all encompassing” isn’t gonna happen with this endeavor either.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    I think many of youse are missing the point. We keep complaining how government, police, the press, and various authorities treat us, we act surprised when they don’t know about our Ways. When they turn to Hollywood for a definition of Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, Polytheism — if they think of the last two at all — we scream about misinformation. We feel marginalized. We holler about discomination.

    Yet We get upset when one Witch of Pagan attempts to give a definition about all of us on the news or a talk show, a definition which not only encompasses all of us (impossible) but which we feel is historically correct. We whine. A LOT!!

    We are all so terribly fearful about the Jesus Weeners and the NAR, and how they are deliberately misrepresenting what Paganism is and is not, equating it with Satanism. We demand that the misinformation be countered with facts.

    Yet when someone tries to accomplish the goals of representing us, being a bridge between Pagans (or whatever label) and authorities and press, helping our own people find a voice in situations where they mightn’t have control — the military, the police, hospitals — we whine even more. How dare these people try to defend us! The audacity! Why, they don’t represent ME! They said, “Some Pagans worship a Goddess, some Pagans worship the Earth, some Pagans eat rhubarb!” Well, I do not do these things, so that invalidates the whole project!”

    The people doing the defining aren’t educated enough to suit us, not active enough, not Pagan enough…

    PPPpaaaAAAAthetic!

    We have these long scholarly conferences on gender definition and how ancient peoples buried their dead, and yet we don’t want to use written guidelines to help us when our kids are bullied, innocent people are hauled off to prison, our soldiers are treated with disrespect, our rituals are invaded and our shrines are defiled. We don’t want representation? What? It seems to be up to individuals and small groups to keep having to fight the same fights over and over without any backup. Not from the illusion of “community” but from anyone!*

    On another post, someone stated that I don’t like modern Pagans much, so why interact with them… well, I view this movement as being in its adolescence, with some of the behaviors that adolescents exhibit… so certain that the authorities are all bad and wrong, whining, yet often incapable of functioning on their own. Grow up!

    Some day, we each are gonna rub up against some authority figure. We are going to be featured in the press. We’re going to have to deal with some conflict with people outside our faith.

    When that happens, I would rather be represented by someone who is a little like me — a Wiccan, a Celtic Recon, a pamphlet written by a council of VOLUNTEERS — rather than being represented by a Christian chaplain in a hospital who knows NOthing about my religious views. Or, rather than not being represented AT ALL.

    *with apologies to Lady Liberty League and Military Pagan Network, who have been very helpful in the past. Blessings!

    • Rustymon

      The “Leader” of the “group” said she did not know of any large Pagan organisation extant in the U.S….How about that? No one is trying to stop this woman from what she wants to do, but she is less than honest, and seems to not be educated to the degree needed to run such an organisation…She plans to “accept” the donations on the website that she uses to peddle her “products”, and while she said she already had the support of a group of well-known Pagans, she did not…Just those facts should tell you something about this…but do as thou wilt!

    • Kerri Connor

      Really I think the point being missed is that no Pagan, no Christian, no anyone should ever have to define for the government at any level what their religious beliefs are. Instead of giving in and defining ourselves in a way the Christianized government finds acceptable — shouldn’t we be emphasizing Freedom of religion — no matter what religion — for all?

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        That’d be swell, when it actually comes into manifestation. In the meantime, we need to tell the nice hospital chaplain that we don’t want Catholic last rites if we’re in a coma, or tell the misguided state police officer that we have the right to have circle in the park, and tell the kindly yet misguided military color guard who comes up to the widow’s home NOT to say, “Don’t worry, Sgt. Stewart is resting in the arms of Jesus”.

        • Kerri Connor

          None of those things are going to be stopped by defining anything other than FREEDOM of religion.

          • Kerri Connor

            Isn’t the American Council of Witches defining all traditions of paganism pretty much the same thing as the Beef Industry of America planning a cookbook for Vegans?

      • Sylveey

        From what I understand, freedom of religion is exactly what this is all about. I’m not directing my comments to you exclusively Kerri, but to all.

        It always amazes me at how rude people can be toward someone or a group of people who are putting forth the effort to do things that are beneficial to ALL. I am a solitary who is involved with many covens, and I have no problem in seeing how I will not be represented. I think everyone needs to take a breather and let these good people organize. I’m sure that when they are ready they will be able to answer all questions and concerns in a timely manner.

        There may be all kinds of groups and movements oriented toward changing things for Pagans, that’s all good and fine, but so far NONE of them represent my view. With that said, I can honestly say that the whole isn’t “about me.” I’m not so “me” oriented that I’m going to complain about that. I’m looking for the one or the group who will take up the torch for ALL of us in a structured manner that is beneficial.

        I am willing to give this a chance, and I am willing to SUPPORT it in any and every way I can. Some of you have faulted Kaye for her response to the negative comments heaped on her. From my POV that is rude. You get out what you put in, and it’s a shame that pagans can’t stop for one moment to realize how what they say sounds to others. I see too much of this “pack” mentality and frankly, THAT puts me off. What is this? Jr. High school?

        I for one will be watching for what Miss Kaye and Kenny have to say in the future, and I call forth abundant blessings and courage to all who put their time into this endeavor.

        • Kerri Connor

          When a group gets together who appoints themselves the definers of everyone else you end up with things like Nazi’s. This is just so wrong it’s ridiculous. NO ONE has the right to define anyone else’s religion.

          • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

            Did you really have to bring up Nazis? It doesn’t really add anything to the discussion.

            This group is trying to help Pagans, and while I certainly understand the issues some people have taken (and agree with), not trying to force us to all believe a certain way. Yeah, a Pagan can say ‘this is part of my religion’ when confronted about having a circle in a public park, performing special passing rights for the dying, and many other things that Alice C. said. Actually, Alice already said what I could say better than I could say it. I’m waiting to see how this council turns out though, and wish them the best. I hope they are able to represent Pagans as best they can.

            But really, bringing Nazis into the discussion is never necessary.

          • Kerri Connor

            It most certainly is when you have a group that appoints themself the “lawmakers” of everyone else. In the research I have been doing for a project I’ve been working on for almost 2 years now, one thing I have found is there are for more people out there who call themselves Pagan that have beliefs that are nothing similar to Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, etc…. there are a ton of people who are no where near “main stream” pagan religions. I have found far more people who celebrate holidays that are NOT the wheel of the year, than those who actually DO celebrate the wheel of the year. The vast majority of these people do not call themselves witches and will not, do not appreciate anyone else who has no knowledge of their traditions to appoint themselves as someone who should be speaking for them, representing them, or defining them. If you want a US council of witches, that is one thing — Then they can get together and discuss things that have to do with WITCHES. Anything past that and they are seriously overstepping their bounds and creating problems. This council is going to be for the Pagan community what the Tea Party has been for American government — a group that steps in thinking they have the right to define everyone else.

    • Cara

      I’d have more faith in this effort if they hadn’t started out with a major misrepresentation: “The new Council was organized primarily at a request from the U.S. Army to update the Army Chaplains Handbook, whose Wiccan/Pagan statement was written by the original council.”

      They then had to come back and say there was no such request from the US Army to revise the Handbook. This isn’t a good way to instill trust.

  • Kerri Connor

    Hey Jason – I have to ask – where do the ads come from that appear here? I have to laugh whenever I see the Joe Walsh one, he is unfortunately my representative!

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Some are served by Google, and are based on your browsing history, and some are placed by Patheos by folks wanting to target our/my audience.

      • Finnchuill

        Funny that they are targeting us with church ads here, then.

  • DruidGirl

    I hope they do contact ADF, and the other non-Wiccan, non-Witch Neopagan organizations. ADF does have its own entry in the Army Chaplain’s Handbook already but I’m certain they would be interested in participating in interfaith Pan-Pagan dialog.

  • Kerri Connor

    Was just looking at the Facebook page and it says that they have sent “notices” (doesn’t say what these “notices” say) to “these groups in these states” then the states are listed with a series of numbers after them. What are these numbers supposed to mean? I see Illinois has a listing. My group didn’t receive any “notice”.

  • Sky

    “This would provide an overview of belief and defining key terms and tenets of belief.”

    Ms Berry doesn’t even know the tenets of the beliefs of the Nation she claims. She sells sweats, medicine wheel teachings amongst other things that are NOT part of Cherokee culture. And she expects to give a fair, accurate and LEGAL definitions of the beliefs of 565 Nations?

    I have spoken to my friends who took over for me at the federal medical facility in Massachusetts and Massachusetts and New Hampshire state prisons, they will be contacting the chaplaincies on Monday to confirm but to their knowledge the chaplains have not gone outside their services for any further guidelines than those provided by federal law and/or advocated by the current volunteers. I have also placed a call to my DOC and BOP contacts for indigenous inmates in CT, NC, OK and SD.

  • Oberon

    Ah, I believe I see a core problem here:

    “In light of these attacks upon our basic religious freedoms, members of the community of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, and other polytheists have united to re-form the American Council of Witches. First formed in 1973, the Council was a group of over seventy Witches and Pagans who drafted a set of principles outlining the common practices of Neopagan religions in North America.”

    Actually, the original Council was very specifically open to initiated Witches only. It was not a “Council of American Pagans;” it was a “Council of American WITCHES.” And the 13 Principles were not of Pagan beliefs, but of “WICCAN Beliefs.”

    Other Pagan associations such as the Council of Themis (1970) and later the Papal Apology Project (2000) put together statements of common precepts and FAQ sheets addressing common themes, principles, precepts, practices, etc. of modern Paganism, and these continue to hold up remarkable well over time. If these are to be updated, this should be done by another similarly-diverse assemblage of Pagan leaders representing as many diverse Paths as possible.

    But it does seem to me that a “Council of Witches” should only include Witches, and a statement of “Wiccan Beliefs” should be pretty specific in being a list of common beliefs held by Witches, and not necessarily other Pagans, such as Khemites, Hellenes, Asatru, Druids, Hindus, Shinto, CAW, etc.

    As a surviving member of the original American Council of Witches, I am happy to serve this new resurrection in an advisory capacity, and my primary interest is in attempting to reconstruct a much as possible the names of all the original 73 members, and inviting as many of them as are still alive to participate in this current incarnation. If anyone reading this was involved in that original Council, please let me know!

    BB-Oberon Zell

    • AnonGuest

      Oberon, it may have better suited the 70′s when knowing who was who (and what) may have been more clear-cut.
      If these new documents are going to be given government agencies and meant to describe witches you probably ought to be aware that to much of the world “Witch”, “Wiccan”, “Pagan”, “Druid”, “Asatru”, “Satanist” etc. etc. are all lumped into one boat and seen as all the same thing. And frankly, many Witches would recognize themselves as more than one category in there, too

    • Kerri Connor

      Oberon — I’m very glad to see you step up and clarify the issue of this being about WITCHES and not other groups — especially since we have been told the idea of resurrecting this council and defining ALL traditions came partly from YOU.

  • Witchhex29

    I don’t think recons will be included in the council. Some of us don’t apply pagan as part of who we are.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Recons have a mighty narrative, of which they are understandably proud, but are just as exposed as any of us to misguided military or prison chaplains, clueless school principals worried about “gang signs,” etc. If this Council is actually going to outgrow its roots and interface with government on behalf of anything we might remotely call small-p pagan, excepting Recons would be not only counter-producive but unfriendly.

  • sky

    Could somebody please address the legalities of this organization including Native American issues? Why does this organization feel they are better suited to handle these issues when we have federal and state legislation in place and organizations such as NARF and the American Indian Movement who already successfully address and ensure that Public Law No. 95-341, 92 Stat. 469 (Aug. 11, 1978) (commonly abbreviated to AIRFA), codified at 42 U.S.C. §1996 is followed? Can somebody please explain why none of the three federally recognized bands of the Cherokee have Ms Berry on their roles and she feel that she is above CNO and EBC ratifications of tribal constitutions as to representation? Can somebody please explain why none of the prison volunteers, chaplains or cultural advocacy organizations have never heard of Ms Berry until now? Can somebody please explain why indigenous peoples should trust an organization that is headed up by an individual who goes against the wishes of Traditional Elders and sells ceremony inaccurately portrayed as Cherokee? Can somebody please tell me who her Elders are? Can somebody please tell me who the US American Council of Witches attorney is so that I can pass this information on to CNO, EBC, NARF and the American Indian Movement?

    • Anonymous

      Sky, you raise some really good points… it’s a shame no one has answered any of them.

      Jason, I think it would be really interesting to see some of Sky’s points/questions addressed in a future article on Wild Hunt. Many pagans seem to have mimimal awareness of issues dealing with First Nation customs, affiliations, and tribal rules. I think it would be really informative to learn more about these kinds of issues on a pagan forum. It would certainly help us better discern those who are making fraudulent claims of tribal affiliation and religious practice from those who are the real deal. I think it would also raise awareness of the negative impact of cultural appropriation by predominantly white ‘practitioners’.

      • sky

        Kathryn and sindarintech I appreciate your support. I am still rather shocked that an individual who is self-identifying as Cherokee and knows so little of the culture that they are selling ceremony as Cherokee when it is not would think that they are in a better position to advocate for indian people than organizations that have been around for decades and are well versed in the intricacies of indian law. Not only is it against the law (see my previous post regarding the ratifications to to tribal constitutions) it borders on privilege. Our organizations have worked for decades to ensure that county, state and federal prison facilities accommodate indian people under federal guidelines. The military as worked with these organizations as well. As an individual who has advocated for indigenous peoples in state and federal prisons, taking the US Air Force to task for their misuse of culturally significant items during their chief master sergeant ceremonies and advocating for native service members as well as protection of ceremonies and attempting to dispel stereotypes I am appalled. I have repeatedly asked for clarification here. I do not have a facebook account so cannot address the key players there (though I am sure any comment would be immediately deleted) and wish to handle this publicly since it was stated publicly that indigenous people would be included like it or not.

    • http://www.bandia.net/caorann/ Kathryn NicDhàna

      Seriously, this has to be addressed. What were people thinking when they thought a non-Native seller and exploiter of Native ceremonies (or, more correctly, outsider fantasies of Native ceremonies) was someone who could head up an interfaith effort? Did people just not look at her websites and MySpace pages, or did they just not care?

      • http://www.bandia.net/caorann/ Kathryn NicDhàna

        Wrong link in my post. This should fix it.

        • http://www.bandia.net/caorann/ Kathryn NicDhàna

          Sorry. Disqus doesn’t like me. Here’s the link it’s not logging: http://www.bandia.net/caorann/

    • http://tairis-cr.blogspot.com Tairis

      I think these are incredibly important questions that need answers, and I’d like to see them publicly addressed too.

      If this council is going to succeed and genuinely represent the wider pagan community, then I really think it needs to think about what it calls itself, what its aims really are, and what they have to do in order to genuinely represent as wide a portion of the community as possibe. And it needs to respect those parts of the community who don’t want to be involved, too. The responses so far haven’t inspired confidence on that count.

      This is not something that should be associated with cultural appropriation and racism; nor should it be the sort of thing that announces itself one day, changes its story the next, then starts asking for donations, and be surprised that people are generally responding in a negative manner.

      That the people involved aren’t responding to the concerns that people have raised – promptly, in an open and transparent manner, or even with its own members from the looks of things – is quite worrisome to me.

  • Anonymous

    Just a minor quibble: Peoria is about three hours away from the city of Chicago, and doesn’t usually qualify as being close enough to actually be part of the Chicago area. It’s kinda like saying someone is in the Bay Area when they’re actually in San Diego.

  • Kennyfiddler

    At this time, due to the number of issues and unanswered questions I am perceiving, I cannot continue as PR rep for the council. I would like to wait and see if the questions being posed, such as from whom did the U.S. Army request come from, and who is and is not actually on the council board, are satisfactorily answered before I continue my involvement with this project.
    Kenny Klein

    • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

      Kenny–I can only wholeheartedly agree with your decision to step back. I’ve got many questions that have yet to be answered about this resurrection from the past– I have noticed that the leading Pagan organizations here in the US have NOT said or posted anything about new council that is trying to be formed. There has been nothing publicly said.

      My question about as to why the US Army would contact Kaye has yet to be answered by her. The handbook is not longer used and it just seems odd about doing a revision. When first looked at the facebook page for the council I had an icky feeling about it and didn’t “like” it. I did yesterday and saw that the comments have been deleted. I don’t like that.

      I have stated yesterday that I have a “baaaaaad feeling” about this. I’ve gotten a number of comments on defining us as a faith.

      As a litigant from the Pentacle Quest, I have to be honestly say that this project just doesn’t seem right now me. There are many other better contacts for the US Army to be contacting for information. I just don’t believe it happened. I have been around walking this path for 24 years and I have NEVER heard of Kaye Berry till I looked her up on the internet and found very little about her other than a myspace page — and now she’s taking donations thru her website to create a website? Come on!

      Always go with your gut instinct. (I finally listened to your cd’s from Cleveland PPD the other day– LOVIN’ THEM!!!!!!!)

      Jill Medicine Heart

      • Sky

        Jill,
        I tried to contact her via email, ccing a couple of people from here and bccing a handful of individuals from the Native American community who asked to be included but not identified, regarding her choice to involve us while disregarding already established organizations who are doing a very good job. She answered none of my questions, threw somebody under the bus and claimed I was personally insulting her when I was simply being honest and asking honest and important questions. I am still unclear as to whether the organization is intending to represent us.

        Sky

  • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

    Here is the latest on the US American Council of Witches:

    “US American Council of Witches

    The Council members are taking a temporary leave of absence as we regroup and reorganize. We are so overwhelmed with e-mails, with offers of help, etc….
    I give thanks to all of you for your overwhelming offers. Please keep the good vibes going! We will post updates thru our e-mail box.”

    They have also formed two more facebook pages– American Council of Natural Earth Religions and American Council of Pagans.

    I don’t see many of the larger Pagan organizations jumping on the bandwagon on this one because if you have noticed, things have been VERY quiet.

    I’ve joined both new facebook pages to see where this is going.

  • Jill Medicine Heart Combs

    I just left a comment on About.com Paganism/Wicca page because Kaye just posted there yesterday.

    “Kaye… how did the US Army get in contact with you about this? There are many unanswered questions that no one from the organization have answered over at The Wild Hunt. I suggest that you take a look at the comment section and answer, TRUTHFULLY.”

    http://paganwiccan.about.com/b/2011/10/13/american-council-of-witches-returns.htm#comment-299544

    I seriously doubt we won’t get an answer since I confronted her in public.